Several bloggers have commented on this, being rather chagrined that they are agreeing with NCR(eporter). I have no such chagrin. NCR has been on top of abuse reporting since the 80's in a way that not a single "conservative" or "orthodox" publication has. The pleasant news in this piece is that NCR is willing to give Mahony his due - although I will admit they have actually run some pieces on the LA Story in the past year or so, but as a whole, for NCR, LAW has remained the symbol of this scandal, when, I think when the history is written on this - if it ever can be - LA's leadership will come out much more poorly than Boston's, even.
I have blogged on this until the tips of my fingers are worn thin. There is no great mystery here. Chancery Culture - I will not even call it clerical culture anymore because although clericalism defines it, there have been too many lay people culpable and enabling to simply limit it to that - is all but impenetrable, and the whole thing has become so awash in legal concerns, there is no climbing out. The bottom line is that these guys cannot admit they did anything wrong in any specific terms because even if they wanted to, the lawyers won't let them. It opens them up to even more lawsuits. And many of them don't want to because loyalty to their brother priests trumps almost everything. I will be brutal about this: those of you not in it just cannot fathom how, tragically, the habits of a career in the religious biz, the culture of a religious institution can deaden faith. It's the exact opposite of what we think it should be, but really...the greatest risk to losing your faith is working in the Church. Not just because of what you see, which is the way people usually think of it, but because the risk is high of matters of faith becoming just a job, becoming an agenda, becoming a corporation to protect and defend, becoming a place where people talk, talk, talk about faith but are spiritually empty.
And then it becomes an excellent place to hide. Because no one will rat on you because, really, who are they to judge, because they haven't really prayed in months, maybe years, either, and God knows what they've got going on the side - it may not be boys, but it may be an obsession with building, a simple contempt for the parishioners you're supposed to be caring for, alcoholism, a boyfriend in the beach condo, a wife and children in the Philippines (really), a determined delight in the golf games at the best courses that your rich parishioners can give...who knows.
But the foundational line - which runs beneath the bottom line - is a profound and shocking lack of faith. Back a couple of years ago, there was a lot of talk about being accountable. The bishops need to be accountable to us, they need to be accountable to the people, to the church, etc.
I said at the time, and I say again - I don't care if the bishops are accountable to me. I want them to be accountable to Christ.
That would do it.